India asks China to facilitate journalists after recent expulsions

Only one accredited Indian reporter remains in China and only one Chinese journalist is in India, whose visa is yet to be renewed; Indian news organisations not allowed to hire locals in China

June 02, 2023 05:39 pm | Updated 09:25 pm IST - NEW DELHI

File image for representation.

File image for representation. | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar

India has called on China to “facilitate the continued presence of Indian journalists working and reporting from China” in the wake of Beijing revoking the credentials of three Indian reporters since April.

New Delhi also said that “all foreign journalists, including Chinese journalists have been pursuing journalistic activities in India without any limitations or difficulties in reporting or doing media coverage”, a day after Beijing said that the number of its reporters in India was “about to drop to zero”.

“The Indian side supports and facilitates foreign journalists in India. At the same time, there should be no deviations from normal journalistic behaviour and activities, or from the provisions governing Journalist visas,” Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Friday.

Mutual expulsions

India’s policy towards foreign media has come under the lens following recent raids on the offices of the BBC. Meanwhile, the number of Chinese journalists in India has fallen from more than a dozen in early 2020 to only one at present, after New Delhi refused to renew visas for several reporters.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said this week that the visa for the last reporter was yet to be renewed. In response, Beijing has since April revoked the credentials of three of the four Indian correspondents based in the country and has threatened countermeasures on the last accredited reporter if the last Chinese reporter in India was not given a visa.

Facing restrictions

Mr. Bagchi highlighted the conditions faced by Indian organisations in China, which, unlike Chinese outlets in India, are barred from hiring locals according to Beijing’s restrictions on foreign news organisations.

“Indian journalists in China have been operating with certain difficulties, such as not being permitted to hire locals as correspondents or journalists,” Mr. Bagchi said. “As you know, foreign media can and do freely hire local journalists to work for their bureaus in India. In addition, Indian journalists also face several restrictions while getting access and travelling locally.  We hope that Chinese authorities facilitate the continued presence of Indian journalists working and reporting from China.”

Mr. Bagchi said that “the two sides continue to remain in touch regarding this issue”. The ongoing talks, however, have not stemmed the continuing mutual expulsions in recent weeks, with only one reporter from each country currently remaining.

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